Thanks go out to digital artist Tim Shelbourne for the Photoshop tutorial. Get the tutorial files here.
01: Perfect Paper
Open your photo reference and duplicate the Background layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J). Fill the original Background layer with white via Edit>Fill. Now open the supplied paper scan (‘paper.jpg’) and copy and paste it into the main image. Ctrl/right-click the paper layer, choosing Convert to Smart Object. Now use Edit>Transform>Scale, to scale the paper over the entire canvas area.
02: Photo Reference
Drag this layer down the stack, dropping it between the filled background and the main image layer. Set the layer Opacity to around 50%. Click on the photo reference layer and reduce its Opacity to just 30% to serve as a tracing reference layer. Add a new layer, choose the Brush tool and choose a hard round brush.
03: A Little Tracing
In the Brushes palette (F5), ensure that set both the Size Control and Opacity Control to Pen Pressure. Now make sure you’re using Black as Foreground. Using the brush at around 15 pixels, loosely trace over the main elements within the scene. There’s no need to go into too much detail at this stage, just create a useful guiding sketch.
04: Wet Media Brushes
Once your initial sketch is completed, hide the photo reference via its visibility eye. At this stage it’s useful to have the original photograph open in another window, so you can refer to it as you develop the drawing. Add a new layer and from the Brush Picker, load the Wet Media brush set. Choose the Brush Light Texture Medium Tip brush.
05: Start Inking
In the Brushes palette (F5), ensure that both the Size and Opacity Controls are set to Pen Pressure. Using Black as Foreground use the brush at around 15 pixels to start inking the main outlines of the building. Line quality is very important here, and it’s best if you draw swiftly for lots of energy and spontaneity within your line.
06: Super Sensitive!
This brush is wonderfully sensitive to the pressure you apply as you draw, so take advantage of this, varying your stylus pressure for a variety of thick and thin lines. By applying more pressure at the end of some strokes, you’ll create the impression of ink from the brush leeching into the rice paper surface, for a convincing natural media feel.
07: On the Dark Side
At this stage, concentrate on drawing the main outlines of the building and the various shapes within it. We’ll add midtones later, but for the time being add any real darks by increasing the size of the brush a little and using lots of pressure for wide strokes. Make sure to keep your strokes quite spontaneous here.
08: Indicated Detail
Continue to build up the sketch of the building, simplifying detail by using fluid, energetic lines (see the Brush Strokes boxout below for more hints about this). It’s vital that you indicate detail, rather than outlining everything mechanically.
09: Root and Branch
The trees need to be simplified and require special treatment to work well. First, increase the size of your brush and use very light pressure to indicate the main trunks and simplified branches. Simple, fluid lines are the key here.
… to be continued